While today disco music is nearly as common on the circuit as any other style of dance music, Crazy P have been peddling their underground disco sounds far and wide long before it was so widely appreciated.
Formed in 1995 by producers and multi-instrumentalists Chris Todd and Jim Baron, within a few years Crazy P had become a fully fledged band, complete with bass guitar, drums and lead vocals from Danielle Moore.
Although disco, particularly of the house-driven variety, has surged in popularity over the last few years, as a live band Crazy P have remained an anomaly, with the baton mostly having been picked up by producers. Crazy P’s unique mix of electronic and live elements sets them apart – and makes for an infamously good show.
as a live band Crazy P have remained an anomaly
Crazy P have been touring non-stop since the release of 2015’s Walk Dance Talk Sing, between the band’s three incarnations: the live band, Crazy P Sound System and Crazy P DJ sets. However, their new album Age of the Ego finally lands this month with 11 new tracks and a UK album tour to boot, stopping at in Trinity on 18 May and returning again in August for The Downs.
We had a chat with Danielle about the new record, Crazy P’s success and not changing with the times –
‘We’ve just made music that, at any given time, we felt we wanted to make’ says Danielle. ‘We’ve pursued that disco angle because it’s what we like – we’ve been influenced by it, it’s our roots. And the house music element has come in along the way, as we’ve been growing up and we’ve gone to various clubs, for example. Every time we’ve written a piece of music, we’ve been true to ourselves. But with regards to disco coming into fashion, I suppose it’s given us a longevity that we never thought we were going to have. We’ve noticed that we have a massive youth following now.
‘I think we reached a point of exhaustion in late 2000 where our loyal crowd were getting older – as we all are – but they were stopping going out, they were having kids… And now we’ve got this sudden late surge of 20 something year olds breathing new life into our popularity.’
we’ve got this sudden late surge of 20 something year olds breathing new life into our popularity
Crazy P have managed to maintain a balance of keeping true to the traditional sounds of disco that inspire them, and evolving to their own tastes to keep things interesting. They still offer something completely unique, despite more than 20 years in the game and eight albums now under their belt.
‘The good thing about the guys I play in the band with, and particularly Jim and Chris, who are the producers, is that they all play live instruments – they’re musicians. They can play a variety of instruments and work with new sounds and modern technology, and intertwine the two. I think that the live band fuels a certain fire and the production side fuels another. We try and integrate the two constantly.’
I think that the live band fuels a certain fire and the production side fuels another. We try and integrate the two constantly
This fusing of the two sides of musicianship is not just confined to the studio and is very much a part of their live act, whether that involves Danielle’s live vocals over the Crazy P Sound System, or the full live band manipulating sound on stage.
Crazy P’s reputation for a good live show often precedes them and they’ve recruited many new fans in festival fields around the world. However, their recorded material more than holds its own without the weight of a sound system and is as well suited to a late night afterparty as a Sunday barbecue.
music should inspire something
‘Once you’ve given your record over to the public, I suppose you’re just really pleased when they like it. We have had some quite interesting messages, like “we conceived our baby to this”. I suppose there’s two angles to our records; if people are listening to the lyrics, they might really get into the lyrical side of things, but I think usually it’s just a general feeling or emotion. When I used to listen to Steely Dan, or Prince, or The Cure or Madonna, I might get up and start dancing in the middle of the day, or I might recite all the words, or I might pretend I was playing guitar – music should inspire something. If that’s to get up and do something or feel an emotion, then I’d be happy with that. If it’s played at barbecues, or if Heartbreaker is played at a funeral – brilliant – it’s had an effect.’
While there are plenty of synth-driven bangers on the album, Age of the Ego as a whole sounds more live than previous releases
While there are plenty of synth-driven bangers on the album, Age of the Ego as a whole sounds more live than previous releases, particularly in songs like This Fire and Kari. It also presents as a more cohesive project altogether; two elements that come as a result of writing together as a five-piece band, within a limited space and time frame, Danielle explains.
‘We actually wrote it on the estate of Gottwood Festival. We camped up on the Gottwood estate, we stayed in some of the outhouses and I stayed in the barn. We set up all our instruments and we just jammed for two weeks.
We set up all our instruments and we just jammed for two weeks
‘At times, when we were knackered, it felt like a prison sentence, but we managed to pull ourselves round and realise how lucky we were, because we’ve never had that opportunity before – to take two weeks out of life and all get together at the same time and do it.’
There are also some more chilled songs on Age of the Ego, particularly the album’s closer, Night Rain, which comes as a bit of a surprise from such a dancefloor-orientated group.
‘With Night Rain, initially we were almost joking around and doing a bit of a ballad, but then every day when we got back into the barn to jam, we’d say “shall we play that one again?” And so the hook kind of stuck with us. Then, lyrically, I remember sitting down one night and feeling a bit emotional because I was missing home and it was absolutely chucking it down, and just writing the song.
‘We’ve been playing it in rehearsals and, to be honest, it’s kind of our favourite one at the minute. It might be a reflection of our age collectively, or it might be because it’s really live, three of us sing on it and, I dunno, sometimes it’s nice to sing ballads.’
Despite Danielle’s Mancunian accent, it’s easy to think of Crazy P as a Bristol band, with a long history of playing here and an iron fanbase.
there’s always been kind of a Bristol family – that’s where the managerial heart is
‘Our agent was based in Bristol and we have strong connections with Dave Harvey and Future Boogie – he’s been a really good friend of ours. We met them the Garden Festival in Croatia, which is now Love International. Our manager lives in Bristol. So there’s always been kind of a Bristol family – that’s where the managerial heart is. It’s where the control centre is. That’s where that connection lies and still is.’
You can expect their show at Trinity this month to be buzzing to the steeples, as Crazy P bring the new tracks to life on stage for one of the first times.
we are passionate performers and very sweaty performers
‘I will say we are passionate performers and very sweaty performers. We’re working on our stagecraft as we speak – Tim’s threatening to wear some gold lamé shorts, but there’s been a warning about that! We’re feeling fuelled from these two weeks rehearsing, and it’s certainly coming from an incredibly passionate place.’